Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hurricane Florence and Human Character

I live in Eastern North Carolina, and we were recently visited by Hurricane Florence.  Florence has cost an estimated $38 to 50 billion in damages, and killed at least 39 people in NC alone.  This was a huge natural disaster.

As the storm was approaching, some in our neighborhood evacuated, but many stayed in place.  My family was among those that stayed, along with the rest of the military base near us.  It was an adventure, for sure.

During and after the storm, we saw the true character of many of our neighbors.  As the flood waters began to rise, much higher than anticipated in our neighborhood, my wife and I realized that we were in a very dangerous situation.  The water was almost to the top step of our porch when one of our neighbors helped me pile my wife, daughter, dog, and cat into a canoe, and swim alongside, pulling them out to safety.  

Over the following couple of days, we huddled together with two other families in a vacant house in our neighborhood.  The homeowner, who had the house listed for sale, gave us permission to stay there, and we were very grateful.  Neighbors showed up and offered us blankets, food, and other necessities.  There was much help and comfort from those that stayed through the storm.  A couple of neighbors that evacuated even gave offers of their homes and belongings via text messages and phone calls.  It was heartwarming.  

As things settled a bit, my family was able to return to our house.  The floodwaters had mostly spared our home, but four houses around me were flooded, to include the two families that we spent the last couple of days with.  Additionally, others in the neighborhood began returning from wherever they had evacuated to.

One woman in particular, who had previously offered to let one of our neighbors stay in her house and use her belongings (towels, blankets, food, etc), returned home and began to sing a different tune. She accused our neighbors of breaking into her home and stealing from her, despite having texted them an offer of her belongings, leaving them a key to the house, etc.  She made sure to visit all of the neighbors and spread these lies.  I also suspect that she contacted the owner of the vacant house we stayed in, as the sheriff deputies showed up there to run us off after a couple of days, claiming that the owner had been told that we were tearing up the place.  Told by whom? I can only guess, but I suspect that the same woman that suddenly decided to label us as burglars and thieves was to blame. To be clear, we left that house in better shape than we found it in.

What kind of person does this?  This disaster brought out the best and worst in people.  We had many offers of help, and a few looters as well.  We also had one neighbor that chose to attack and defame us.  The real irony is that one of our neighbors that stayed in that borrowed home was planning to buy it; she ended up buying a different home in the neighborhood, so the liar not only inconvenienced us all in a time of need, but she cost that homeowner the sale of their house.   I hope she doesn't ever find herself in a position where she needs a favor from me.

True character comes out in times of stress.  

No comments: